Big East best bet for KU

September 14, 2011


Now that the Big 12 appears closer than ever to death, the obvious question becomes which direction makes the most sense for Kansas University. All indications are north is not an option because the Big Ten isn’t interested. So it boils down to east or west.

This conference realignment mess is all about football, remember? Well, it is for most universities, but for KU, it always has to be about men’s basketball because that program markets the university more significantly than the rest of the teams combined. The history is that rich, the success that mind-boggling, the coach that telegenic.

So, east or west?

Easy. East. Exposure falls way short for basketball programs that play out west, in part because the games are played too late for much of the country to follow and in part because most of the high-profile announcers who promote the game so relentlessly don’t live out there.

OK, so the Jayhawks can’t go north and have reason not to want to go west. So they go east, but to which conference, the Big East or the ACC?

The ACC wins that battle academically, and the allure of playing Duke and North Carolina twice a year in basketball certainly can’t be denied.

Nice destination, but the ACC isn’t the Big East in basketball because no conference is the Big East in basketball. Look what Jim Calhoun has been able to do with his coaching talent and the bright Big East lights at a school that didn’t have a great basketball tradition before his arrival. Calhoun has won three national titles in the past 13 years and won his first at the age of 56. Playing in the Big East prepares teams better for the NCAA Tournament than any conference. Calhoun won his third national title even though the Huskies were no better than a No. 9 seed in the Big East tournament.

Kansas plays in the Big East, and it brings the success it already is encountering recruiting in the East up a couple of notches. It also brings so much exposure to the university — some New Yorkers will fall in love with the Jayhawk mascot, others will fall in love with hating it — that in the long run it will improve the school’s academic standing by increasing the number of out-of-state applicants.

What do all the biggest names in Big East basketball coaching — Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino — have in common? Every one of them is at least 10 years older than Self. When they retire, the Big East still will be the Big East, but it won’t be their Big East. It will be Self’s.

Some think the 20-team basketball conference would feature five four-team pods in which each school plays pod-mates twice a year and some, but not all, other schools once a year. Here’s a better idea: Play a 20-game conference schedule with a pair of games against a designated rival and one game against everybody else. Coaches would hate it because it would taint their winning percentages, but networks would love it because Big East games draw big ratings, the more games the better.

A football West Division in which Kansas joins Cincinnati, Kansas State, Louisville, Missouri and TCU has appeal.

Missouri needs to get over itself, realize the Big Ten isn’t interested and convince KU to continue the great rivalry by making the jump to the Big East.


Loomer 6 years, 9 months ago

I could live with KU in the Big east. It may further open up basketball recruiting out there. East coast kids could have the opportunity to come to Kansas and play championship caliber ball, plus get a quality education and still be able to return home area on a weekly basis and perform in front of there families. Kansas just needs to be proactive one way or the other. Big 12 is toast.

kujayhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

The Big East isn't a bad destination if it's stable.

Jim Williamson 6 years, 9 months ago

"...Ku is not going to the Big East."

You keep telling yourself that.

hammerhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

I have always thought, albeit "always" is only the last couple of years of big 12 breakup(!), that KU would be a good match with schools in the Big East. The Big East is generally noted for academics, West Virginia excepted, as well as basketball. Our football team might be more competitive, too. Hey, and wouldn't a Lacrosse team be exciting!

Another great advantage of the Big East, would be starting game times when the Mighty Kansas Jayhawks traveled east! All the games would begin at a reasonable time, as opposed to VERY LATE starting times for PAC games. Ha Ha.. OK, TX and all the rest of the jokers will be up so late watching games they will lose a lot of good work time on the days after games!!

I say GO BIG EAST! Or keep the Big 12, whatever.

beaujackson 6 years, 9 months ago

Those who said it was a mistake for the Big 8 to become the Big 12 can now say, "I told you so".


Ricky_Vaughn 6 years, 9 months ago

If KU goes to the Big East they can forget about going 30-2 every year.

Richard Payton 6 years, 9 months ago

Texas most likely headed to the ACC so to keep that $300 million ESPN (LHN) contract. If Texas goes to the ACC then the Big East will get raided.

Jayhawk1963 6 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, Tom, I have to disagree. Although you make some good points, in the long run, KU is a better fit for the PAC16.

i. The PAC16 will be stable; the BE will not. They will be subject to raiding just like the BIG12 is.

  1. The PAC12 is more prestigious, athletically and academically, than the BE. In fact, it is second only to the BIG10 among BCS conferences in AAU members and second to NOBODY in number of NCAA titles.

  2. A move to the PAC would mean retaining more familiar rivalries. Old BIG12 schools would include OU, OSU, CU, and, probably, either KSU or MU. This assumes UT goes elsewhere.

  3. Competition would be very good but not overwhelming. If you think Bill Self, good as he is, would routinely win 4 or 5 basketball league titles in a row in the BE, you're dreaming.

  4. Healthier environment. KU would get away from the greedy, arrogant influence of UT and belong to a league where the same number of schools participate in both football and basketball. Any conference that has 8 schools playing football and 16 playing basketball (or whatever) is a recipe for major disagreements in how to divide the revenue (just like the BIG12).

I sincerely hope the Chancellor and AD Zenger jump at the chance if KU is fortunate enough to get an invitation from the PAC12/16.

mae 6 years, 9 months ago

Is there really a rivalry in bball with kstate and mizery anymore? I just kinda assume we'll win and don't even pay attention some years.

pigballin, you need to recognize that KU is not about to think anything but basketball in their potential move. Football is nothing compared to bball revenue and never will be at our school.

I'd love to see us in the east, but I'd miss playing Texas. If you ask me, they are the one school in the big12 that consistently brings it. Football or bball, I love to watch future pros battle.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.